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Policies please, not posturing

With the September date for the federal election now set, Australia’s authority on green buildings and communities calls on all political parties to outline the policies and programs that will drive productivity and sustainability in Australia’s built environment.

“We are now in the ideal position to assess all political parties based on sound policy, transparent programs and joined-up thinking,” says the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA’s) Executive Director of Advocacy, Robin Mellon.

“We will engage with all political parties over the next seven months to advocate a three-point green plan for our buildings and communities which we believe will place Australia on a clear, long-term pathway to sustainability,” Mr Mellon adds.

The three-point plan outlines the need to:

1.  Provide visionary government leadership

“Visionary government leadership requires a commitment to greater efficiencies and the nationally accepted method of measurement for sustainable buildings - Green Star.  All buildings owned, occupied or developed by the federal government should achieve Green Star ratings to demonstrate that they are efficient, cost-effective and sustainable. 

“The federal government must be accountable, transparent and efficient in its expenditure - and Green Star ratings verify that this objective has been met,” Mr Mellon says.

2.  Retrofit and improve existing buildings

“Greening the vast quantity of existing building stock in Australia is an enormous challenge - and all parties must have policies and plans which address, enable and encourage this. Some state and territory governments are introducing a range of policy incentives to improve existing buildings' energy efficiency, reduce water use, widen the range of green building materials used and reduce construction and demolition waste.  We call on all political parties to outline the financial and non-financial incentives they intend to introduce to support more efficient, productive and sustainable buildings,” Mr Mellon says.

3.  Move beyond buildings to communities and cities

“In mid-2012, the GBCA launched the Green Star – Communities rating tool to provide best practice benchmarks for delivering adaptable, liveable, prosperous and sustainable cities, communities and precincts across Australia. The benchmarks within this rating tool, and the ratings to be achieved, should be embedded within federal policies and strategies in order to encourage better outcomes – especially in leaner economic times when Australians need less pressure on their cost of living. 

“What’s more, we must learn from the extreme weather events we’ve experienced in recent years to make our buildings and communities more resilient and adaptable.  This means updating our planning and building codes, and developing national policies that realise the economic benefits of early adaptation and mitigation,” Mr Mellon adds.

“Australia’s future economic productivity, liveability and sustainability depend on getting it right with our buildings, our communities and our cities.  A long-term commitment to policies and programs that drive sustainability in the built environment is essential.  How Australia’s parties are judged will be on the strength of their policies not the posturing of their politicians,” Mr Mellon concludes.